November 2nd, 2011 by Nicole Meyer
In a great win for elephants, the Toronto City Council voted to send the Toronto Zoo’s African elephants, Thika, Iringa and Toka, to the PAWS Sanctuary in Northern California. The council voted in May to close the zoo’s elephant exhibit, but decided to send the elephants to another zoo and not to a sanctuary—though a sanctuary was not out of the question if an appropriate zoo was not located.
But things turned around last week when Councilor Michelle Berardinetti presented an urgent motion to move the elephants to PAWS amid rumors that the Toronto Zoo was zeroing in on a facility that would not meet the council’s criteria for the elephants. The council had specified that they be sent to a warmer climate and to a facility that did not use bulhooks on any elephants. Councilor Berardinetti’s motion passed by a resounding 31-4.
Thanks to the compassion of the Toronto City Council and the hard work of Zoocheck Canada, Thika, Toka, and Iringa are now assured a permanent home in a facility that offers far more space than any zoo, a climate suitable for elephants, and only positive reinforcement training.
IDA is very proud of its role in helping these elephants. We sparked the effort to save them in 2009, when IDA called for closure of the Toronto Zoo’s elephant exhibit following the unprecedented deaths of four elephants in less than four years, and urged the Toronto City Council to send the elephants to a sanctuary. The story was widely covered by the Canadian media. IDA kept the pressure on when we made Toronto the first Canadian entry on IDA’s annual Ten Worst Zoos for Elephants list. And it is thanks to the perseverance of Zoocheck Canada that this wonderful victory was finally achieved.
Now it’s time to turn our attention to the plight of solitary Lucy in Edmonton, and assure that she, too, can live out her life in a sanctuary in the company of other elephants. And we can’t forget all the other elephants living in inadequate conditions in Canada and elsewhere. With your help and support, we can bring about the mammoth changes they need.